Well in my last post I asked what do you do with 20 quarts of Strawberries?
Well after you have made a strawberry pie or two and you have snacked on a handful or so, there is only one thing left to do. Preserve them before they spoil. I am sure that this is a conundrum that has confronted farmers for quite some time. In fact I am sure this problem has been front and center for our species as long as we have been gathering more food than we could eat in one setting.
We have had many different ways to meet this crisis. With meats we would simply salt the meat or drown it in layers of fat. However in the early 19th century Napoleon Bonaparte was concerned about the food for his armies staying fresh enough to keep them feed. He offered a prize of 12000 francs to the person who came up with the best way to preserve food over a long period of time. The person to do this was Nicholas Appert, the father of canning, who devised a way of preserving food in bottles similar to wine. This process was adapted and improved on through out the years by many different individuals.
However in 1858 a man by the name of John L. Mason conceived the idea of the Mason jar or a glass jar and lids that had threads. This allowed for reusable jars and screw on lids. The ease of use and the affordability of this system made canning more popular and the idea spread across the United States to all women be them farmers and homesteaders but also women living in the urban areas. Families began traditions of canning sauces, pickling, relishes, jams, and tomatoes. The name Mason became so synonymous with canning that piratically all glass jars to this day are called Mason jars even if they are made by another company and the fact that the Mason company has been out of business for over a century.
Canning grew in popularity during WW I and WW II. Canning was seen as a way to help the troops from home. As one can probably expect it is not as popular as it once was.
Many other companies made glass jars some with similar systems to the Mason jar, such as the Atlas E-Z jar, the Kerr jar, and the Ball jar. However others were made with completely different systems such as the Lightning jar.
An early Ball Mason jar
The Atlas "Strong Shoulder" Mason jar-The Strong Shoulder is the raised lip just below the lid.
A Ball jar using the Lightning clamp system.
The Ball Mason jar using the "Strong Shoulder" or the raised lip.
All of these jars were a gift from Five Crows who is a good friend and a gold mine of knowledge in a variety of areas.
*Interesting side note Ball jars used to be manufactured in Mundelien, Illinois up until the plant closed in 1981.